China is the world's largest oil importer, after surpassing the U.S. in 2016, so any change in consumption has an outsize impact on the global energy market.
West Texas Intermediate for March delivery lost $1.53 to $50.03 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after touching $49.92.
Benchmark oil contract, Brent North Sea crude, recovered to $55.13 per barrel having earlier touched a 13-month low $53.95.
OPEC member Iran said on Monday the spread of the virus had hit oil demand and called for an effort to stabilise prices, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported.
Oil has fallen $10 a barrel this year to $56, lower than the level many OPEC countries need to balance their budgets.
The world's biggest oil producers are said to be discussing more production cuts, that have been in place since 2016, to boost falling prices. The Asian nation is one of the world's biggest consumers of crude, which fuels its economy. Flights have been cancelled and authorities across the globe are trying to contain the virus's spread.
The collapse in Chinese oil consumption is starting to reverberate across the global energy market, with sales of some crudes slowing to a crawl and benchmark prices in free-fall.
China's largest refiner Sinopec Corp has cut throughput at its facilities by 600,000 bpd, while some independent refineries in Shandong, which import around a fifth of the country's crude, have seen utilisation rates at key facilities drop to less than 50 percent, its lowest since 2015.
Despite the insistence of Saudi Arabia, the cartel and 10 allied countries led by Russian Federation decisively thwarted attempts to schedule an emergency meeting of the full delegation this week. One executive said that refinery runs were likely to be cut soon by 15-20%.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will assemble experts in a "joint technical committee' in Vienna on Tuesday and Wednesday, the source told AFP".
OPEC+ only just started a fresh round of deeper cutbacks last month, the latest step in a three-year effort to prevent plentiful US shale supplies putting the global market into surplus. "This suggests a commitment from Opec not just to extend oil supply cuts, but even implement deeper ones beyond March", said FXTM analyst Hussein Sayed.